Sunday 30 September 2018

My September Days

It really felt like the seasons changed dramatically this month. I blinked and when my eyes opened suddenly the trees had changed colour and the nights were getting darker. Simon and I have even found ourselves discussing Christmas plans (I know, it's too soon!)

Here are just a few of the things that didn't make the blog this month.

Pink Cakes at Kiln

After my beautiful breakfast at Kiln in Ouseburn back in the Summer I returned this month with Simon to finally get my hands on some of the beautiful cakes I've been eyeing up. It was pink cakes all round with a deliciously sweet rose cake for me and a raspberry sponge for him. I really do love this spot, it's one of my favourite places in Newcastle to grab a coffee and I need to go more!

Losing My Head

I've been skipping about Newcastle like I've lost my head AGAIN! Simon never fails to eye roll at me when I do this but sometimes when we're out in the Toon, the sun is shining and life feels great I can't help but start leaping about like Tigger saying over and over how much I love Newcastle. When the mood hits me I can't control it and I have to stop myself from launching at every tourist I come across to ask them if they'd like me to be their personal guide (I'm still very offended that no one thought to ask me to be Will and Kate's tour guide!)

Basic Autumn 

I feel like I should apologise for this photo!  No one wants to be "that girl" - the one that photographs their first Pumpkin Spiced Latte of the Autumn  and immediately shares it on Instagram complete with #PSL hashtags but I just couldn't resist it. I am so basic but I just love them and when I saw that this year's offering comes with bright orange pumpkin flavoured cream, well I just had to share! For the record, the orange cream on top is a little too sickly but the drink itself is just as good as I remember and it definitely got me in the Autumnal mood!

My September Days - Pumpkin Spiced Latte

A Sore Head

I shared this photograph with a caption about how long my hair is and how I should book in for a cut (seriously, it's been months) but perhaps the real story behind this photograph has more to do with the small bruise above my eyebrow! If you look closely you can just about make it out. This was my head injury after drinking a few too many glasses of Prosecco which resulted in me writing off most of my weekend and my very worried husband having to pick me up off the floor after I passed out. It's not big, it's not clever, I definitely don't think we could call it a highlight of the month and I'm still waiting for the day when I grow up and become an adult!

Stories about Cake

I know you all think that I spend most of my days eating cake but I promise you it isn't true!  Let me tell you something, when Cake Stories is just round the corner from you yet you hardly ever go, it's clear your willpower is pretty impressive. The only problem is now I've revisited that amazing cake counter again I've been reminded how good their treats are and I think it'll be a daily battle now to stay out (anyone fancy a hot chocolate?)

Our Anniversary at Wynyard Hall

We celebrated our second wedding anniversary this month with a return visit to Wynyard Hall. We first visited the luxury country hotel in Teesside earlier in the year for a blog review (read about our visit here) and loved it so much we had to return. So we splashed out and went for the full works - afternoon tea, a massage each, evening dinner, plenty of G&Ts in the Library and two nights in a fancy pants suite. Visiting during the week was such a treat, it was so peaceful and we enjoyed the chance to truly explore the stunning rooms of the Hall and appreciate all of their beautiful features.

Marshmallows in my Gin!

Simon's Mum isn't the easiest lady to surprise (you'd be amazed how many surprises she manages to ruin by guessing what's happening) so we were over the moon to plan the ultimate birthday treat for her and managed to sneak our way down to Manchester to gatecrash her birthday lunch as the surprise guests. We went out of our way to throw her off the scent and it worked. Our afternoon finished with giant G&Ts at the newly opened The Point Astley where I had a marshmallow and blueberry garnish - bit different but I quite liked it!

My September Days - The Point Astley

For more adventures from New Girl in Toon make sure you follow me on Instagram. I post a new photo every day and you'll find video diaries of my favourite North East adventures on my story highlights.

Friday 28 September 2018

A Guide to National Trust in the North East

No matter the weather or season, nothing makes me happier than getting out and about in the North East exploring the fantastic National Trust sites that we have here in the region.  We've had our membership for over two years now and, with the amount of special National Trust places we have across the North East, I would honestly recommend it to anyone. If you need still convincing, check out my post on 10 Reasons Why We Love Being National Trust Members!

A Guide to National Trust in the North East

Although there are a couple of places that we are yet to visit, we have managed day trips to most of the National Trust sites in the North East so today I thought I'd do a little guide to share our favourite things about each one along with some helpful tips and, of course, my personal recommendations for which spots do the best cakes (priorities!)

Welcome to our guide to National Trust in the North East!

Guide to National Trust in the North East


Our favourite place for: An Autumnal Walk

The first time we ever visited Cragside our jaws hit the floor, the beautiful landscape needs to be seen to be believed and the tall trees and dramatic views had us believing for a moment that we may have taken the wrong turn and ended up in Canada!

The place is huge and boasts some impressive history (once home to the pioneering Victorian engineer, Lord Armstrong, it was the first house in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity), a stunning rock garden and miles and miles of walks. There are 14 marked routes to explore which makes it the best National Trust site in the North East for a walk (it even has multiple carparks and starting points!)

Find Cragside at: Rothbury, Morpeth, Northumberland, NE65 7PX

Seaton Delaval Hall

Our favourite place for: Beautiful carpets of Bluebells

My favourite thing about Seaton Delaval Hall is its dramatic history, it was once home to the Delaval family who were well known in the area for throwing the most notorious parties full of theatrics and pranks and wandering around the building it's really fun to imagine yourself there.

There are some beautiful gardens to explore and a short woodland walk that truly comes alive during bluebell season where you'll discover the most stunning carpet of blue in amongst the trees. On sunnier days we love to spend an entire afternoon lounging about on the grass in the sunshine and playing catch.

You can read more about our adventures at Seaton Delaval Hall here.

Find Seaton Delaval Hall at: The Avenue, Seaton Sluice, Whitley Bay NE26 4QR

National Trust in the North East - Seaton Delaval Hall
Souter Lighthouse and The Leas

Our favourite place for: amazing local history

Simon and I both love Souter Lighthouse and agree that is probably the most fascinating of all the local National Trust sites.

There are 76 steps to the top of the lighthouse (I will admit I got a little scared on the ladder at the very top but it was worth it!) where you'll usually find a guide ready to entertain you with tales from the lighthouse, teach you the inner workings and offer you a great opportunity to enjoy aerial views of the coastline.

Exploring the lighthouse reveals some really interesting local history and, although the tea room is small, they always have great scones!

Find Souter Lighthouse at: Coast Road, Whitburn, Sunderland, SR6 7NH

The Farne Islands

Our favourite place for: Being with nature

An absolute must for anyone visiting Northumberland, seeing the puffins on The Farne Islands is a magical moment that you'll never forget.

The National Trust owned island can be reached using one of the many boat tours from Seahouses on the Northumberland Coast. The amount of coastal birds on the island is incredible and it's a very special experience.

As you can imagine, there are no tea rooms on The Farne Islands (can you imagine it!) but with so much incredible wildlife to enjoy the lack of cake will soon be forgotten.

You can read more about our adventures at The Farne Islands here.

National Trust in the North East - Farne Islands

Penshaw Monument

Our favourite place for: a local legend

One of the most famous folklores of the North East, the Lambton Worm lived on Penshaw Hill which is also home to the Penshaw Monument, a half scale replica of the Greek Temple Hephaestus and a site so famous in the region it features on Sunderland FC's badge.

The climb to Penshaw Monument is very easy and it only takes a few moments to climb the steps up the hill to the top where you are greeted by the 66 foot monument towering above you. The views are pretty fantastic and if you're lucky enough to time your visit well, some weekends  you can climb the hidden spiral staircase for breathtaking views from the very top.

Although there's no National Trust owned tea room, Penshaw Tea Room is just round the corner for your cake requirements and with beautiful Herrington Country Park just over the road offering perfect views of Penshaw Monument it's well worth planning a day trip.

You can read more about our adventures at Penshaw Monument here.

Find Penshaw Monument at: Chester Road, Penshaw, DH4 7NJ


Our favourite place for: a picnic

I was quite tempted to leave Cherryburn out of this guide because it is a really peaceful beauty spot that's yet to be discovered by so many. Far smaller than the larger sites in the region we have visited on scorching hot weekends where we've had the entire lawn to ourselves! The ultimate place to grab a deckchair in the Summer and enjoy some peace and quiet, it seems to fly a little under the radar.

The farmhouse at Cherryburn was the birth place of Thomas Bewick, someone I have to admit I feel quite a connection to as he was so passionate about Northumberland and the nature of the countryside. The greatest artist and naturalist, he loved running bare foot in the wilds of Northumberland!

Although very small the farmhouse is well worth an explore and the short circular walk offers the most stunning views of Northumberland as well as the chance to say hello to the farm yard's cute animals.

The tea room is pretty tiny so not the best, but as this little spot is perfect for picnics (and somewhere you can easily get your hands on a National Trust deckchair without a fight!) it really doesn't matter.

You can read more about our adventures at Cherryburn here.

Find Cherryburn at: Station Bank, Mickley, Stocksfield, Northumberland, NE43 7DD

National Trust in the North East - Cherryburn

Ormesby Hall

Our favourite place for: acting like children

If you were to mention Ormesby Hall to my husband he'd probably launch into stories of his beloved childhood train sets because the National Trust house in Ormesby is home to some very impressive model railways run by some lovely train enthusiasts who will impress with their stories of trains and British history.

The Hall is beautiful to explore and although pretty small the surrounding gardens and parkland make it worth a visit if you're in the area.

Find Ormesby Hall at: Ladgate Lane, Ormesby, Middlesbrough TS3 0SR


Our favourite place for: cake and wine!

Our  most visited National Trust site has to be Gibside and I think we have now completed each of the walks at least three times. Beautiful in every season, we love strolling through the woodland in Autumn, enjoying a drink in the Gibside Pub during the Summer (highly recommend if you've never been) and in the Winter time we have been known to visit just the tea room for a slab of Victoria Sponge (one of the luxuries of having a membership!).

There's always something going on at Gibside and as well as the pub they have regular food markets, late night opening hours in the Summer and, if you're feeling brave, a parkrun (be warned, it's hilly!)

You can read more about our adventures at Gibside here.

Find Gibside at: Rowlands Gill, Gateshead, NE16 6BG

National Trust in the North East - Gibside
Allen Banks & Staward Gorge

Our favourite place for: Skimming stones

One of our favourite spots for an Autumn walk, Allen Banks & Staward Gorge is the largest area of ancient semi-natural woodland in Northumberland and has miles of walking routes as well as Simon's favourite place in the region for stone skimming (if you've visited before you'll know exactly where I mean!)

Find Allen Banks & Staward Gorge at: Nr Ridley Hal, Bardon Mill, Northumberland, NE47 7BP


Our favourite place for: Spotting red squirrels

Wallington is my favourite National Trust site in the region for seasonal flowers with snowdrops in Winter and the crocus lawn in Spring. It's also the only National Trust site in the North East where we've seen a red squirrel thanks to their fantastic bird hide.  The Lambing Shed Live happens every Spring time with the chance to take a tractor ride from Wallington to nearby Broomhouse Farm for tours of the lambing sheds and, if you're lucky, the chance to see some lambs being born.

Home to one of our favourite National Trust tea rooms, there's plenty of seats to be found and they always have some very temping cakes on offer

You can read more about our adventures at Wallington here.

Find Wallington at: Cambo, Morpeth, Northumberland, NE61 4AR

Roseberry Topping

Our favourite place for: Amazing views

Climbing up Roseberry Topping is a must for your North East bucket list and although the climb isn't too challenging the views from the top make it feel like you've truly conquered a beast of a mountain.

You feel like the King of the World sitting on top of the rocks at the top and, if it wasn't so bloomin windy, I'd happily spend an entire afternoon up there admiring the North East countryside.

You can read more about our adventures at Roseberry Topping here.

Find Roseberry Topping at: Newton-under-Roseberry, North Yorkshire, TS9 6QR

National Trust in the North East - Roseberry Topping

I'd love to know your favourite National Trust sites in the North East (or beyond, we all know how much Simon loves me dragging him out on adventures far from home!)

Wednesday 26 September 2018

Flower Walls and Pink Lattes - Why The Great British Cupcakery is the Instagram Hot Spot of Newcastle

Last year I wrote an Instagram Guide to Newcastle, a little collection of my favourite places to take photographs around the Toon. It wasn't the easiest post to write - in a city far from the Instagram obsessed London you wont really find people queuing around the block for pictures outside a cupcake shop, posing for photographs outside pink houses or ordering lattes for their artwork. For a long time, here in Newcastle we've been pretty chilled when it comes to all things Instagram. Until now! Suddenly Newcastle has its very own Instagram Hot Spot complete with flower walls and pink lattes.

Welcome to the new look Great British Cupcakery!

Flower Walls and Pink Lattes - Why The Great British Cupcakery is the Instagram Hot Spot of Newcastle
The Great British Cupcakery isn't new to Newcastle (they actually launched their little parlour on the Quayside the same year that I arrived in the Toon!) and for many years it has been the best place in Newcastle to host a baby shower or enjoy a mammoth scone - in fact it was only earlier this year that I wrote a review on their naughty breakfasts! However, recently, something has changed!

You see, Great British Cupcakery has had a bit of a makeover, and it's the best makeover I've seen in a long time.  Although the parlour wasn't exactly ugly before, it's now become so beautiful it's attracting people from far and wide who want to come and see the new look for themselves.  With a strong army of over 34k followers on Instagram, the Great British Cupcakery has become THE place in Newcastle to Instagram!

Flower Walls The Great British Cupcakery
The parlour now pretty much ticks every box when it comes to taking the perfect photograph - flower walls, neon signs, a blossom tree, pink furniture, marble tables. You name it they've got it and although I'm sure some people are rolling their eyes at the very idea I have to say anything that puts Newcastle on the map and encourages people to support a local family business is fine by me!

Of course, it doesn't matter how beautiful a place is, the food has to be good as good as the interiors, so I decided to head down for a little nose at their new look and just double check that the cake is as good as I remember. Knowing how busy the place is I managed to convince my lovely friend Sarah to drag herself out of bed on a weekend to ensure we were arriving for opening at 10:00 am (we were the very first people in!) to ensure I could park my bum on a seat before the place got rammed. If you've taken a stroll past The Great British Cupcakery recently then you'll know it's pretty hard to get a seat during peak hours with every table being booked up for afternoon teas.

Flower Wall The Great British Cupcakery Newcastle

After all of the necessary cooing over the beautiful new flower wall (I'm pretty sure every person in Newcastle must have had their photo in front of it by now?) we headed over to the cake counter to choose our treats. As always it was an impossible decision with the most impressive display of layer cakes, rocky roads the size of your head and picture perfect cupcakes (and that's before even opening the menu to peruse the selection of bubble waffles and freak shakes!). Luckily the staff were on hand to offer their favourite picks (I'm always grateful for advice when I'm that stuck).

Sarah decided to go for a rather lovely looking hot chocolate (with all the works of course) and I just couldn't resist ordering the Pink Latte. Yes I did kind of order it for the photo opportunities (please tell me I'm not the only person who does this?)

It arrived in two parts, a glass of delicious hot pink milk with a shot of coffee on the side, perfect for me to create my own pink latte with as much caffeine as I wanted. I did, of course, pour the whole little cup of coffee into my drink, at which point suddenly things came a little less Instagram perfect after I spilt quite a bit of it down the side of my glass and onto the perfect marble table.  Oooops!

Pink Latte The Great British Cupcakery Newcastle
Although we'd both been pretty tempted by the Little Mermaid inspired Bubble Waffle (next time!) we both decided to stick with the traditional Great British Cupcakery goodies and got a slice of cake each. My Neapolitan of layered sponges sandwiched with different flavoured butter creams and topped with a very indulgent helping of thick chocolate really hit the spot and although it was very filling I did, of course, manage to finish every last crumb.

Flower Walls and Pink Lattes - Great British Cupcakery Instagram Hot Spot of Newcastle
So, it seems that Great British Cupcakery really is Newcastle's best Instagram hot spot, and I tell you something, their cakes are pretty damn good too!

Let me know if you've visited and how many photos you've had taken with that flower wall!

Flower Wall - Great British Cupcakery Instagram Hot Spot of Newcastle

Find Great British Cupcakery at:

15 Queen Street

0191 230 2151

Thursday 20 September 2018

How to spend a day on your own in Newcastle

When I lived in London I loved spending days on my own. Getting lost on the streets and dining alone, I was fiercely independent and my solo time was precious and something I enjoyed on a weekly basis. Fast forward five years and I'm now living in Newcastle - a happily married lady with plenty of friends and a diary so full of plans I've somehow forgotten the joy in spending a day by myself. So recently I've made it my mission to recapture that love and have had the most fantastic time dong it - so I've put together this little guide on how to spend a day on your own in Newcastle.

How to spend a day on your own in Newcastle

When I mentioned on my Instagram that I was taking some time out to rediscover the joy in eating alone in Newcastle a lot of people commented that they would love to be able to enjoy food on their own but were too nervous. The thought of sitting at a table without a friend really terrifies a lot of people, but there really is nothing to worry about.

When I'm eating alone I always opt for little local independent eateries.  Places like Kiln in Ouseburn - where people truly care about their customers and create a happy, friendly environment are absolutely perfect for solo dining.  I love to try somewhere that I've been wanting to visit for a while (the excitement of a first time visit always stops me feeling nervous!) and when I go in I will always head straight to the counter to say hello and ask about the menu. Striking up a conversation with people immediately makes me feel better about being alone.

I like to pick a table that's snuggled away in a corner, preferably by a window so I can enjoy some people watching. If you're feeling a little awkward about being on your own then gazing out the window at folks passing by will instantly put you at ease and failing that it's always a good idea to have an emergency magazine in your bag that you can bury your nose in.

How to spend a day on your own in Newcastle - Kiln


The best way to ease yourself into some solo time in Newcastle is to enjoy a full day of shopping on your own. Although hitting the high street with friends can be fun it's not always the easiest way to shop. Going out on your own means you can pick which shops to go to, decide when it's coffee break time and can go in and out of the changing rooms as much as you like without worrying that your friend is stuck waiting for you.

Some of my very best purchases have been made on a solo shopping trip and I tend to find that if I'm on my own I really take my time to make sensible decisions, try clothes on and don't end up buying things I don't really need because my over enthusiastic friend egged me on.

How to spend a day on your own in Newcastle - Quayside


If you're planning a full day in Newcastle on your own then a solo shopping trip followed by some pamper time is a wonderful way to spend the day. There are some lovely places to get pampered in the city and it's the perfect solo activity to suit any mood. If I feel like enjoying some peace and quiet away from the high street I'll opt for a nice relaxing massage or if I feel like a bit of a chat I'll indulge in something like a manicure so I can chat to the therapist.

My favourite spot for some solo pamper time is All About You at the Grey Street Hotel, it's a small urban retreat that feels cosy and relaxing and the ladies that work there are really lovely so you'll leave your appointment feeling like you've made new friends.


When I'm out and about in Newcastle on my own I tend to make more effort to really explore areas where I wouldn't usually find myself.

Discovering the streets on your own really opens your eyes to your surroundings and I love nothing more than having a wander because I always notice things I've never seen before. Newcastle is great for solo adventures and my favourite spots to pound the pavements solo are Jesmond and Ouseburn - both really great places for getting lost and coffee shops.


We all have that one thing we love that our other half or friends just don't get! When you have a hobby that no one else really appreciates, it can be hard to find the time to dedicate to it which is another reason why I love spending some time solo.  Indulging in my passions without boring someone else is such a treat!

For me it's all about food photography - I drive my husband crazy making him wait while I take way too many photos of our dishes so when I'm out on my own I love to really take the time to take photographs knowing that I'm not annoying anyone else.

Other great solo activities to indulge in include pottering around a Museum or Art Gallery (and we have some truly lovely places to discover in Newcastle) or looking round a local exhibition that none of your friends want to visit.

How to spend a day on your own in Newcastle Quayside


I've been to the cinema on my own so many times yet it's something else a lot of people would never dare do on their own. I'm not sure why going to the cinema is a group activity when you're sitting in a dark room in silence (it seems bizarre when you think about it!).

Whilst walking into a multiplex on your own may not fill you with confidence, visiting the Tyneside Cinema on your own is an absolute treat. The little independent cinema feels like home, never feels overcrowded and you can happily settle down to a movie without feeling even remotely awkward about being on your own.

Solo cinema trips are the best way to see a film that no one else wants to go with you to see (I'm sure we all have guilty pleasure films that no one else seems to understand!)


Yet another thing many would never dare do on their own, enjoying cocktails in the Toon is an activity most would do with a huge crowd of friends but sometimes having a nice quiet drink on your own is the best way to unwind after a busy week.

Whilst even I wouldn't really enjoy walking into a crowded pub solo there are some great spots in Newcastle where you can enjoy a drink on your own without feeling daft.  Hotels are great places to head and Motel One, Malmaison and The Gin Bar at the Crowne Plaza are all perfect for a solo drink.

How to spend a day on your own in Newcastle - Cocktails

So who's now going to plan a solo day trip to Newcastle? 

Honestly, give it a try - be in charge of your own time! Go where you want, when you want and do what you want!

Tuesday 18 September 2018

Breakfast at Dirt Health, Chillingham Road, Newcastle

It's not often you leave a restaurant feeling truly inspired but that's exactly what happened to me on my first ever visit to Dirt Health on Chillingham Road in Newcastle. This little place in the middle of Heaton is home to one of the greatest new eateries in the Toon and if you need a refresh, some damn good scran and a whole lot of positive energy believe me this is the place to go.

Dirt Health have been on my radar for quite a while now. I've built up a wonderful network on Instagram of locals who share the very best places in the North East and I have to say that most of my "must try" list is now made up of places that I've spotted on Instagram. The colourful dishes at Dirt Health have popped up time and time again and having seen some seriously beautiful breakfasts it was only a matter of time before I got myself to Chilli Road to try one out for myself.

Breakfast at Dirt Health, Chillingham Road, Newcastle

Dirt Health is run by lovely lady Jess who is the kind of person you meet once and immediately want to be best friends with. Her enthusiasm for life is infectious and she runs her business with such passion that within moments of stepping through the door you immediately want to join the Dirt Family. The people that work there are some of the nicest people you'll meet in Newcastle (and we all know what a friendly bunch Geordies are!) - they love a chat, make damn good food and provide service with a smile that seems so effortless you know they actually want to be there.

Simon and I dragged ourselves out of bed very early on a Saturday morning and made the journey to Chillingham Road, powered by the thought of a delicious breakfast to fuel our busy day. If there's one thing I love at the weekend it's a breakfast that I haven't had to make myself and I had been dreaming of this one all week!

Breakfast Dirt Health, Chillingham Road, Newcastle

Settling down at a table with the perfectly formed menu I managed to get my choices down to four options by the time I made my way over to the counter. Their breakfast menu is so good it is impossible to make a quick decision so I had to run through all of my "maybes" at the till because I desperately needed help to place my order - I'm no good with decisions at the best of times but when a menu has so many of my favourites it's impossible.

Breakfast Dirt Health, Chillingham Rd, Newcastle

We decided to start our brekkie off with Smoothies. Simon opted for the Cacao Kick (£4.00) - Coconut Milk, Tahini, Cacao, Dates and Vanilla. I went for the Strawberry Split (£4.00) - Oat Milk, Strawberries, Kiwi, Banana and Raw Honey. Yum!  If smoothies aren't your thing then they also serve a range of coffees, organic teas, protein shakes, superfood lattes and cold pressed juices which change daily.

Breakfast Dirt Health, Chillingham Rd, Newcastle - Smoothies

All of the food served at Dirt is made on site from scratch including the sauces and spice mixes and there are no chemicals, preservatives or refined sugars used ensuring that all of the dishes are fresh. I've heard a lot of people referring to Dirt as a vegan or vegetarian restaurant but they actually cater for everyone and there are plenty of delicious meat dishes on the menu as well as plant based foods.

So what did we go for?

After changing my mind a lot, I eventually decided on the Sweet Potato Protein Pancakes served with coconut caramel and banana (£6.00). I've had Banana Pancakes plenty of times but was so intrigued by the concept of Sweet Potato based pancakes!  When my plate turned up I couldn't wait to tuck into my bright orange pancakes!

Breakfast - Dirt Health, Chillingham Rd, Newcastle
They were really thick and moist compared to banana pancakes and I found them to be far more filling which was good. The sweet potato gave them a lovely natural sweet flavour and they worked so well with the coconut caramel and banana. I'm now wondering if I can work out how to make them at home.

I had severe food envy when Simon's food appeared. He ordered the Breakfast Burrito (£7.00) - a wrap stuffed full with spicy rice, scrambled eggs, chorizo, salad and house sriracha. The filling was so generous it was spilling out and when I managed to pinch a forkful I was so impressed! If there's one thing Dirt do really well it's creating really delicious flavours, I could have happily tucked in and finished it all off for him.

There's no doubt in my mind that we'll be back at Dirt soon for some more breakfast, after all I have a lot of menu to work through (the smoothie bowls look incredible and I really want to try root veg rostis and the full Dirt breakfasts!)

Breakfast Burrito - Dirt Health, Chillingham Rd, Newcastle

The core values at the heart of Dirt Health are things I think we probably all aspire to hold - sustainability (you won't find any plastic there!), local (they are passionate about using local produce), health (no nasty diets just delicious fresh nutritious food), positivity and kindness, community and education.

As you can tell, I am a bit of a fan, and if you're wondering how on earth you can get all of this from a visit to a small cafe you really need to go and check them out for yourself!

Find Dirt Health at:

250 Chillingham Road

0191 369 2054

Thursday 13 September 2018

Huts in the Hills, Northumberland - Luxury Glamping in the Cheviots

* This is a collaboration with Huts in the Hills

Simon and I have become quite the Northumberland explorers over the last few months and what better way to end our Summer of adventure than with a night glamping in the Cheviots with Huts in the Hills, a small collection of luxurious huts in one of the most beautiful locations in Northumberland.

The Cheviots have been on my "must visit" list for a while now and as one of the parts of Northumberland that we were yet to explore, an opportunity to experience some of the most beautiful views in the county sounded like a pretty great way to spend a Sunday. Confessions out of the way first, before our visit I had no idea that I'd been walking around saying "Cheviots" completely wrong (thanks to all my followers on Instagram for putting me right!)

Huts in the Hills, Northumberland - Luxury Glamping in the Cheviots

Huts in the Hills are very new to the Northumberland glamping scene, so new in fact that they've only been open for a few weeks so we felt very lucky when they invited us to stay over for the night - we would be one of the very first couples to experience their brand new luxury huts - what a treat!

You'll find Huts in the Hills on a working farm in Prendwick, on the edge of the Northumberland National Park. A stone's throw from the beautiful Cheviot Hills and the stunning moorlands of Simonside, if you love your staycations with breathtaking scenery then this really is the ideal location for you and it's the perfect spot to explore Northumberland's very best parts.

Huts in the Hills is a very small and exclusive glamping site with three specially designed huts to choose from. The largest hut, The Cheviot, sleeps a family of four with a large King Size bed and separate room with bunk beds (and a climbing wall!) for the children and the two smaller huts, Dunmore and Hedgehope sleep two.

Huts in the Hills, Northumberland - Cheviots


We arrived at Huts in the Hills bang on our 3:00 pm check in time and after a nice easy drive with no dramas (our SatNav directed us straight to the farm) we met owner Nicola who directed us to our hut.

Driving through the farm and out to the fields we followed the signs for the huts and were so surprised at how spaced out they were. Each hut sits in its own paddock surrounded by ample amounts of space with no chance of seeing your neighbours, perfect for a relaxing break!

Huts in the Hills, Northumberland - Luxury Glamping in the Cheviots Hedgehope

Our home for the night was Hedgehope, my favourite of the three huts, with her beautiful green pitch pine exterior making her truly stand out from the crowd.

Stopping the car in our own private space right next to the hut we rushed out for a proper look, completely forgetting about the high winds and cold rain, nothing really matters when you have something so beautiful to admire.

I think I'll just move in now please!

Huts in the Hills, Northumberland - Luxury Glamping
When we'd eventually stopped mooning over the outside we scooped up our luggage from the car and opened the doors to Hedgehope for our first look inside our luxury hut and we were over the moon to discover the most perfect cosy hideaway, the ideal place to shut ourselves away from the horrible weather outside.

Huts in the Hills, Northumberland Luxury Glamping

The living space in Hedgehope was perfectly furnished with so many features it was hard to believe so much could fit into such a small space.

Our fully functioning kitchen came complete with sink, gas oven, fridge and all of the utensils we could possibly need and our bathroom had a flushing toilet and shower and even came with the added luxuries of toiletries, fluffy towels and dressing gowns! I've stayed in hotels that are no where near as fancy as our beautiful hut.

Our bed for the night was kingsized with Egyptian cotton sheets, squishy pillows and extra blankets - the perfect place for us to chill out and the cute bunting above the bed really gave our hut a cosy feel.

Huts in the Hills, Northumberland Luxury Glamping - Bed
Perhaps the cleverest feature of Hedgehop was the wooden bench and chairs that pulled out from under the bed. The solid oak table was perfect for dining and also, quite handily, doubled up as a nice sturdy step up to our bed. Genius!

We had everything we could possibly need to make our stay really luxurious and comfortable including a power point to charge our phone, lights and even a massive cupboard to stash our luggage.

I honestly don't think I could ever try normal camping after being so spoilt, why go camping when you can go luxury glamping?

Huts in the Hills, Northumberland Luxury Glamping - Hedgehope Bed

Glamping in the Rain

It's important to remember when you're planning a glamping adventure that the weather in the UK isn't always terribly kind so booking yourself a stay somewhere that works just as well in the cold and wet as in the beautiful sunshine is a must and Huts in the Hills is the kind of glamping that you can enjoy whatever the weather.

Sure, it's nice to be able to sunbathe outside, skip about in the sunshine enjoying the views, and light a camp fire but the reality of a staycation is expect the unexpected and if you're wanting to book yourself a glamping trip but are worried about the weather, Huts in the Hills is a great find!

Huts in the Hills, Northumberland Luxury Glamping - Hedgehope Hut

It didn't bother us at all that it was too wet to go outside as it was so lovely snuggling away just us in our cosy hut for two. There is something so romantic about being warm and dry inside listening to the rain fall on the window and as soon as we had got the wood burner going our cabin was so toasty we decided to just shut ourselves away for the night.

Huts in the Hills, Northumberland Luxury Glamping - Window Seat
Hedgehope had loads of hidden extras to keep our rainy evening busy and it wasn't long before we were fully invested in a competitive afternoon of board games thanks to the small stash of games we found in our hut.  Taking a few hours out to enjoy a board game is a luxury you very rarely get in modern life so sitting about drinking cider and arguing over Monopoly and Bananagrams felt pretty special.

A shelf of books and some of my favourite magazines gave me the perfect excuse to pile up the cushions and rug on the bed to create my own little reading corner by the window and I tell you there's no better way to spend the evening than indulging in a book, something I very rarely get a chance to do.

Huts in the Hills, Northumberland Luxury Glamping - Reading Corner

Food from the Farm 

As a huge fan of delicious homemade food, Huts in the Hills was a bit of a dream come true with plenty of tasty treats on offer delivered straight from the farm kitchen to our hut As well as a welcome pack of coffee, tea, milk, butter and a huge loaf of fresh bread we were thrilled to discover a dish of homemade cakes waiting for us in our hut.

The very indulgent slabs of Brownie and Caramel Shortcake went down a treat and we'd demolished them before we'd even finished unpacking our bags.  They were just too good to resist.

Huts in the Hills, Northumberland Luxury Glamping - Cake

As we are pretty lazy when we go on staycation we decided not to bother making our own food and ordered our meals in advance of our stay. Huts in the Hills prepare a variety of dishes on the farm using local ingredients (including freshly laid eggs from their very own hens) with a choice of ten meals to pick from that can be booked in advance ready for your arrival.  We opted for the Macaroni Cheese (£10.00) which we found sitting in our fridge ready for us to eat whenever we fancied it.

It was a while before we were ready for our dinner (over indulging in cakes will do that to you!) but when we finally got hungry and decided to turn on our little oven we discovered that one of the knobs was broken. After failing to fix it we found a list of contact numbers in our welcome book and text Nicola to let her know. We felt pretty bad about interrupting her evening but she was so helpful and within minutes had sent her other half down to fix the problem for us.

It wasn't long before we were in full working order and set to work preparing our food. Our dish of mac n cheese was absolutely huge, and with a very generous portion of garlic bread and salad to go with it we couldn't quite manage to finish it and rolled ourselves in the direction of bed with very happy tummies.

Huts in the Hills, Northumberland Luxury Glamping - Mac n Cheese

You'd think after indulging in all of that food we wouldn't be feeling hungry again for a while but breakfast the next morning was a full on food affair! Breakfast can also be ordered from the farm for £25.00 for two people for two days and we ordered the Ocean Basket - Smoked salmon, egg, pastries and conserves.

Served with a thick slice of toast lovingly created from our fresh loaf we enjoyed the greatest start to the day with scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, croissants and greedy amounts of jam - all washed down with a nice hot cup of coffee.

Huts in the Hills, Northumberland Luxury Glamping - Farm Food
Bath Time

There was one thing I had to do before leaving Huts in the Hills and that was to enjoy a soak in the stunning antique French iron bath outside our hut. Simon wasn't overly convinced that taking a bath alfresco would be the best way to start the day so he enjoyed a boring shower inside our hut before sitting out on the decking to watch me fill up my tub.

Huts in the Hills, Northumberland Luxury Glamping - Bath

With a generous splash of the complimentary Molton Brown bubble bath I started filling the deep bath tub with hot water, it took a while to fill but once it was at a good level I quickly pulled off my towel and dived in.

Huts in the Hills, Northumberland Luxury Glamping - Bath Tub
Although there is a screen by the bath to protect your modesty and there's just miles of fields and hills at the back of the hut, I still felt quite risque getting into the bath. It's not every day you're naked in the Northumberland hills.

The water was deliciously hot and as I sunk myself into the bubbles I enjoyed the gorgeous views whilst sipping on a glass of Prosecco and realised that this was one of those moments where you feel truly lucky to be alive. Something tells me bath time will never be the same again after experiencing this, it's definitely not something you could easily recreate at home (I'm not sure my neighbours are ready for that!).

Huts in the Hills, Northumberland Luxury Glamping - Prosecco Bath

Our stay at Huts in the Hills was the greatest way to end the Summer and, in all honesty, made me wish we'd booked to stay in the Autumn instead. I can't imagine anything better than enjoying a cosy night for two when the seasons properly change.

So it seems we've well and truly been bitten by the luxury glamping bug and I'm so happy that we've discovered a way for us both to enjoy being out in the countryside together. If you're yet to give it a go I can't recommend luxury glamping enough.  Just be warned, you will get addicted!

Huts in the Hills, Northumberland Luxury Glamping - Hedgehope Hut

Find Huts in the Hills at

Prendwick Farm
NE66 4UZ

Huts cost from £170.00 for two nights (minimum two night stay) and you can book your stay here.

We were invited to Huts in the Hills for a complimentary stay and food in return for this honest review.

Tuesday 11 September 2018

Bottomless Prosecco Brunch with the Girls at Malmaison Newcastle

* This is a collaboration with Malmaison

I think I may have discovered the best way to start a weekend! Bottomless Prosecco Brunch with the girls at the Malmaison on the Newcastle Quayside. Yes, I did say bottomless.

If you are as obsessed with reading travel blogs as I am then you will probably know that a lot of places around the world have a huge culture for bottomless brunching. Eating delicious food whilst sipping on fizz sounds like my idea of heaven so I've always been rather disappointed that this trend hasn't really taken off here.  So when I heard that the Malmaison in Newcastle were launching a bottomless prosecco brunch in their beautiful Quayside restaurant I was thrilled.  This could be the moment that I'd been waiting for.

Bottomless Prosecco Brunch with the Girls at Malmaison Newcastle

If you're yet to visit the Malmaison on the Quayside since its relaunch last year (where on earth have you been?) then it's definitely time you put a plan in your diary. The gorgeous Chez Mal bar is one of my favourite places for a relaxing drink and the Brasserie offers delicious dining with what has to be the most perfect views of the River Tyne.

The newly launched Bottomless Liquid Brunch is served every Saturday in the Brasserie at the Mal and for £24.95 per person you can indulge in one brunch plate with unlimited Prosecco or Heineken (available for 2 hours whilst you're dining)

Bottomless Prosecco Brunch Malmaison Newcastle

Leaving the husband at home (sorry Simon, better luck next time!) I decided that Saturday Brunch at the Mal was the perfect place for a long overdue catch up with my girls and knowing that Sam and Katie love breakfast dishes and glasses of fizz just as much as I do, it was going to be a great afternoon!

Arriving at 12:30 pm for our booking we made our way up the stairs to the Brasserie, and were shown to our table. It's been a while since I last dined at the Malmaison so I was looking forward to tucking in and was hoping the food would be as good as I remembered.

Our first glass of Prosecco appeared in front of us as soon as we sat down to look at the menu and I was really impressed that the remainder of the bottle was put in an ice bucket next to us so we could keep ourselves fully topped up, believe me studying a menu is thirsty work!

Bottomless Prosecco Brunch Malmaison

There are nine items to choose from on the Saturday brunch menu and many of the dishes are absolute classics including Waffles with all the trimmings, Eggs served several ways and the indulgent Steak Frites.

I did consider a "proper" breakfast and almost ordered the Big Mal Breakfast which promised the full works, but in the end couldn't resist The Mal Burger. Served with Gruyere Bacon, and Burger Relish in a Brioche Bun with Pommes Frites on the side.

I do fancy myself a bit of an expert in all things burger, and might even have a little secret list of ingredients that make the perfect burger (maybe I'll share it with you all one day!) so I'm very happy to report that the Mal Burger ticked all of my boxes and was faultless so if you're planning your own visit to the Malmaison for a Prosecco Brunch I highly recommend this as your brunch plate choice!

Bottomless Prosecco Brunch Malmaison Newcastle Quayside
Sam went for the Steak Frites - Rump Steak, Pommes Frites and Beamaise Sauce and being the very best kind of friend she cut me off a little piece of Steak to try and it was so delicious (I would have had food envy if my Mal Burger hadn't been so good!)

Katie opted for Eggs California - Poached Eggs served on Smashed Avocado. Unfortunately she was on the other side of the table and I couldn't quite work out how to stretch my arms over to pinch any without her noticing, but it looked really lovely and will probably be what I try on my next visit.

Bottomless Prosecco Brunch Malmaison Newcastle Quayside - Eggs

Now I know you've all been patiently waiting for the important details (I know this is the question  you all want to know the answer to!) - how much Prosecco did we manage to sink during our Saturday Brunch, and is the deal worth the money?

Our glasses were kept constantly topped up and each time we emptied a bottle another appeared within moments. I actually lost count of how much we got through but we all left feeling pretty merry (I'm still wondering how on earth Katie managed to complete the Great North Run the following day!)

Considering how much a glass of Prosecco usually costs in a bar on the Quayside, the Bottomless Prosecco Brunch at the Mal was incredible value and we all left feeling like we'd got ourselves a very good deal.

So, I think it's only a matter of time before I book myself in for another visit, will anyone be joining me?

Bottomless Prosecco Brunch Malmaison Newcastle Quayside - Menu
Find The Malmaison at:

104 Quayside

0191 389 8627

We were invited for a complimentary brunch for three in exchange for this honest review.
© New Girl in Toon | All rights reserved.
Blog Layout Created by pipdig